The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Sea Gull (Barge), aground, 2 Nov 1888

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Sand Beach, Mich., Oct. 2 - The barge SEA GULL, one of the tow of the prop. LOWELL, has gone ashore between here and Forestville and is fast breaking up. What the fate of the crew may be has not yet been learned here, but the worst is feared. The CROMWELL is still hard ashore, but will be saved if the wind goes down. The MAGNET has not been heard from yet, but it is thought she has rode out the gale.
The following vessels managed to make the harbor and safety last night:
      Detroit News
      October 2, 1888
      . . . . .
      Barge SEA GULL, U.S. Official Number 23526, of 201.05 tons. Home port, Oswego.
      List of U.S. Merchant Vessels, 1871
      . . . . .
Schooner SEA GULL , Official U. S. Number 23526 of 115 x 25 x 10. Gross tons 201.05, Net tons 191. Built 1864 Foreign built. Home port, Oswego.
      List of Merchant Vessels
      of the United States, 1885
      . . . . .
Register Number: 15
Description: Schooner
Tonnage: 238 & 1/3
When built: 1864
Where Built: Oakville
Present Master: John Murray
Where she belongs: Oakville
Builders name & date of certificate: John Simpson, April 5, I864
Description of vessel:-
      Masts: Two
      Decks: One
      Length: 112 feet
      Breadth: 23 feet & 3/I2ths.
      Depth of hold: I0 feet & I/I2th.
      How Rigged: Schooner
Standing or Running bowsprit: Standing
Square or round stern: Square
Figure-head: Sea-Gull figure-head
Carvel built.
Surveyor: Robt. K. Chisholm
Subscribing owners:- John Murray of Oakville & Francis Jackman of Toronto, sold to Francis Jackman & William H. Jeffery dated May 8, 1665
      Registry cancelled as vessel re-registered at another Port
      . . . . .

Ah, those SEA GULL tugs. It happens that most of them ended up in this area, so I have spent a good amount of time sorting them out. 22098 came to the lakes in 1888 - sinking due to a collision in the St. Lawrence enroute - and became part of the fleet of famous wrecker James Reid, when he was still out of Bay City, MI. She wound up doing more towing than wrecking, and was towing the disabled steamer OHIO when she burned and sank May 1, 1893 near Spectacle Reef. The wreck was later towed to a point near Bois Blanc Island and resunk, and is today a popular dive target. See Feltners' book *Shipwrecks of the Straits of Mackinaw* for a good description. 23857 (sidewheel tug, not prop as shown in Merchant Vessels) was also out of Bay City and was owned by the equally famous Boutell fleet. She was built at Portsmouth, Michigan (not Portsmouth, NH as shown in Merchant Vessels) in 1868 as a passenger steamer and converted to a lumbering tug in 1878. Her initial registry was at Port Huron Jun 25, 1869. She was sunk in a gale in Saginaw Bay in May of 1889. She was quickly abandoned as a total loss and her document surrendered, but was recovered only a few days later (I believe by Reid). When she was raised, she was stoked right up and came back into Bay City under her own steam. She was reregistered and continued to operate until 1898, when she was abandoned. 23526 is the most interesting of all. Merchant Vessels swings back and forth between calling her SEA GULL and SEAGULL. I prefer SEAGULL because that is how she appears in Canadian records. Many sources show her as ending her career off Sand Beach in 1888, as you mention, but the Port Huron Custom House records hint at the true story. She was rescued and towed to Bay City (again, I elieve by Reid) and rebuilt as a steamer in the winter of 1888-9. Her new registry as a steamer was dated June 18, 1889, when she came into the possession of J.C. Miller of Tawas City. Her demise is well known hereabouts. On July 5, 1890, she was lying at the dock at Tawas City, MI, unloading a cargo of ice. She caught fire from unknown causes and turned into an inferno which spread to the Tawas lumber docks and destroyed the boat, the docks and half of the waterfront. One crewman died in the accident. Then there is the other little SEA GULL you mentioned...
So to recapitulate the remarkably parallel steam SEA GULLS, we have:
1)A former bark, schooner and barge built in Canada in 1864, sailed the Atlantic, came to Bay City in 1867, wrecked in 1888, rebuilt to a propeller in 1889 and burned in 1890
2)A sidewheeler built on the East Coast in 1863, came to Bay City in 1888 and burned in 1893
3)A sidewheeler built in Bay City in 1868, rebuilt in 1878 at the same place, sunk in 1889 and abandoned, raised and abandoned in 1898
4)A propeller built at Marine City in 1862, sold Canadian in 1867 and dismantled at Sault Ste. Marie in 1912.
      Letter from Dave Swayze

      . . . . .

Media Type:
Item Type:
Reason: aground
Lives: ?
Remarks: Rebuilt as Propeller
Date of Original:
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Geographic Coverage:
  • Michigan, United States
    Latitude: 43.84168 Longitude: -82.6416
William R. McNeil
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Sea Gull (Barge), aground, 2 Nov 1888